Don't Write off the Southern Centrists (We Do Still Exist)
By Rush Roberts
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Democrats pride themselves on being the Party of Diversity.
I consider this a good thing. Of late, they have also made
a name for themselves as being The Party That Stands Up To
Insane Greed-heads, which I think is even better. It is about
If there is one issue that all nine candidates can agree
on, it is the simple fact that George W. Bush is a "miserable
failure" as a president. (Thanks, Dick G.) They even agree
on the basic reason: he has been economically unethical. He
has wasted billions of dollars and hundreds, nay, thousands,
of lives on a pretentious war that need never have been started.
To those of us who can see the facts, the failure seems obvious.
So why do so many Americans still like this absurdly ignorant
puppet of the Right Wing who is defiling the White House?
Because the "liberal media" portrays him as some sort of unifying
war leader, that's why. Right. But that is worthy of an entirely
different article, and I leave it to those who know much more
about the history of bad presidents than I do. I am only twenty-five
years old. I am regularly laid-off, only to be seduced back
by another 50 cents an hour raise. By the way, I have a college
degree from the university that houses Bush, Sr.'s Presidential
Right. Off track. What seems important now is what is the
now and here. My state got hijacked by a corporate-welfare
child of a Northern Congressman/Vice-President/President,
and next thing I know, to declare yourself a Democrat is virtually
social suicide. A trend that has swept the entire Reconstructed
South Proper. (Where have ye gone, Bob Bullock?) I am from
Texas, by the way, and last night I just purchased a bumper
sticker at my local record store (bless their hearts, they
display a sign that reads: 'support small businesses: the
backbone of America'. Amen.) The sticker reads: "read my lips:
no new Texans." The message is not anti-new-Texans, but anti-People-Who-Claim-to-Be-From-Texas-and-Greatly-Disappoint-Real-Texans.
A leader emerged in 1992, but despite two successful terms
his personal indiscretions provided the desperate right-wingers
with enough fodder to fuel a popular anger and resentment
based on "morality". As the millennium changed, so did the
American Public's idea of what was required of a president.
Four years later, it is my hope that they've realized their
I've noticed the trend here on DU of columnists embracing
candidates who they thought were 'unpopular'. And almost always
it is Dennis Kucinich. I am going to do the same, but tread
on unexplored territory: my candidate is John Edwards.
Dennis Kucinich is a brave man with an enormous heart. I
honestly respect what he has done both as mayor of Cleveland
and a U.S. Congressman. But he has no prayer of even earning
a nomination. Perhaps John Edwards doesn't either. But I am
as willing to follow him into the fire as others are to follow
Kucinich, or Dean, or Kerry.
Southern is an important word nowadays in our political vocabulary.
It implies hardship, struggles for equality, and new hope.
At least in one party it does. In the other party it implies
"easy victory" and "patriotism". Southern Democrats were for
a time the most powerful factor in our nation. Granted, this
was during one of the ugliest parts of our history and for
the most part they were on the other side of the fence; but
then again, Republicans used to be in favor of equal rights
and the right to organize. Ideologies may sway, as does the
moment, but the power of emotion never does. (Take Senator
Byrd. I despise his opposition to Civil Rights, but I could
embrace him when I see him on CSPAN reciting the Constitution
shakily by heart and denouncing Señor Flightsuit's
So, what I'm trying to say in a roundabout way is that John
Edwards can do what probably only one other candidate can
do: carry the South. And please do not dismiss the South as
unimportant. Florida aside, the only other deep south states
to vote Democratic in the past three elections were Louisiana
and Georgia. My state of Texas has not voted Democratic since
Johnson. And this is wrong. Southerners have more to benefit
than any other region: health care, equality, educationů the
list goes on and on into a heap of Republican fear-induced
Bottom line: if a candidate cannot carry at least two or
three Southern states, he will not win. No matter what. I
hope I am wrong, but I fear I am not. John Edwards was born
poor and worked his way through college, becoming the first
member of his family to graduate from college. This is the
American Dream that Republicans like to harp on but never
facilitate. He went on to fight for patients' rights in healthcare
court battles for a quarter-century. Then he went to the Senate
and did the same. He beat an incumbent to take the Senate
seat, no small feat in the South for a Democrat. Why not listen
Of course he is evasive, groomed, even non-committal at times.
But hey people, wake up: he is a politician. It's his job.
Republicans like to paint him as a lawyer. Fine. What they
seem to forget is that half of all lawyers in court are good
people. I'd much rather have someone who fought for the so-called
"Little Man" than someone who has spent their entire life
fighting for the Large Corporations, as Señor Flightsuit
I am dedicated. I am not such a proud person that I will
refuse to vote if my candidate is not elected. I will vote
for whomever gets the Democratic nomination. But not everyone
will, particularly in the South.
Lastly, there is something that virtually no one knows about
John Edwards that made me like him when I first heard about
him over a year ago. When you hear him speak about the losses
that people have suffered at the hands of this bogus war,
please don't discount him. He honestly knows what he is talking
about. This man lost a son several years ago. A son who would
be roughly my age right now, and probably struggling to find
permanent employment as I am. A son who was killed in a car
accident because of high winds. He could have sued automakers
and maybe he would have won. But he didn't. He took this pill
that life gave him and swallowed it, convinced that it would
make him a stronger person. And it has. He is. He is a lawyer,
but he knows where to draw the line.
The first time I heard about John Edwards was on Dennis Miller
Live, ironically. I used to love to watch that damned show,
when Miller was a moderate. It was from a man who vehemently
denounced Clinton and insisted on drinking Scotch and smoking
a cigarette on air. Christopher Hitchens was the guest, and
he spoke very highly of Edwards because he had championed
the case of a girl who had been sucked into a pool drain and
suffered greatly but had been kept alive by the verdict that
Edwards had won. Hitchens has been a verbal critic of Clinton,
and yet he went out on a limb so early as 2001 to embrace
Edwards for his work for the common man. He believed Edwards
should have been chosen as Gore's running-mate (as he was
a close second).
Bottom line? Think more. Don't believe everything you read
in the press, but at the same time, look for the underlying
story. A tall order for modern Americans, yes. We have become
so comfortable with pre-packaged goods. But for the good of
your own nation, I beg you as a fellow-voter, an unemployed
what-not, a Texan in Desperation: Don't vote for the simpleton
from Yale. Vote for the cunning lawyer from North Carolina
State. I meanů how refreshing would it be to have a president
who wasn't from the Ivy League or Oxford? I'm not sure if
Edwards is a golfer or not. But imagine he isn't. How refreshing
would that be? I leave you deep in thought, but think of this:
Clinton was a Southern Centrist in 1992. History has a habit
of repeating itself. Lets keep the trend alive.